Samsung says it was wrong to have asked the CEO of Lioness, a smart sex toy company, to hide its product during a co-hosting technical event for women. But the Lioness CEO says the apology doesn't go far enough, and it doesn't mean Samsung will actually make changes to be more inclusive.
During the event last Thursday, a senior director at Samsung Lioness CEO and co-founder Liz Klinger asked for her product, the Lioness Vibrator, of display. Klinger was invited to the event, had permission to be present and already had her stand on the show floor.
The show should have focused on women's health. "Samsung is fine with women's health when it comes to fertility and when it comes to making babies, but they don't seem to be fine with the other aspects of women's health," Klinger said . The following web marked first Promotions from Samsung during the event.
Instead of removing her product, Klinger protested against the decision and tweeted about what happened. By the time she finally received a response from the Samsung director who had requested the removal of her product, the event was almost over. That meant the vibrator could be seen, but Klinger was not present at her stand to talk about it.
Now, almost a week later, Samsung issued a statement The edge say it is sorry about what happened and will learn from the encounter.
“Samsung is proud to support both women in technology and the future of portable innovation. This was an event organized by women for women, and men allies who are interested in developing portable solutions for women. We regret an interaction that took place with a presenting startup and apologize to those involved. We have tackled this internally and will learn from this if we continue to sponsor female innovators. "
Klinger says that Samsung did not contact her directly to apologize and that she only saw the statement when it was sent to her by The edge.
The apology doesn't say much either. "If you translate the statement, especially given the lack of concrete steps or outreach, there is basically no intention of changing anything and this is only meant to ignore what happened, which is disappointing," Klinger said.
Samsung and other major technology companies that run industry events and consumer platforms have an "enormous power" to choose who is and is not included in cultural conversations, Klinger says, and that has often hurt women-focused sexual health companies.
“Based on this statement, it seems that they would still exclude these votes. We are a small team led by women. Despite their second-hand apology, does it seem likely that we or another female sexual well-being company will ever be included in their events if you bear in mind that they have not reached us? Or (not to be too cynical about it), have they just learned to exclude / filter these companies in advance?
"What we hope for is nothing great, just a basic obligation of more inclusion and concrete steps to achieve this."
The experience of Klinger is similar to that of the sex toy company Lora DiCarlo of fellow women. In January, Lora DiCarlo was approved to attend the Consumer Electronics Show and was selected for an Innovation Award for his robot massager before she was later withdrawn. The resulting criticism led the show operator to re-enter the price months later and to announce changes that would make comparable sex toys on next year's show possible.
Sex toy companies are confronted with numerous problems that other sexual health companies do not have, and it has had a major impact on women's products. Services such as Hims and Roman are able to advertise on a large scale for their erectile dysfunction-drug services with brutal advertisements, while sex toy companies of women such as Dame often find that their advertisements are being rejected from websites and important billboard partners. Facebook, for example, has a hard rule against advertising sex toys, making it difficult for these companies to make their name known.
The Lioness product, which has been on sale for two years, has a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer, force sensor, and temperature sensor to track the body and movements of a user over time. That data is then visualized in an app that users can rate.
Klinger has refused experiences in the past because of the focus of her business – she said Lioness had trouble opening a bank account. But it was new to be rejected by an event where she was already present.
The event, co-organized by Samsung and SF Women in Tech, included a number of other women's health companies, including Glow, which is a fertility app. Bloomlife, which makes a contraction tracker, and Mira, another fertility application company, were also invited to participate.
Klinger says she wants "Samsung and similar organizations are starting to become more inclusive about the idea of women's and women's health in technology." Too often, she says, the dedication of large companies to diversity and inclusion feels like lip service.
"I want to have a discussion," said Klinger. "Because if we don't, this will happen the same year after year."